a collage of three tile projects with heading of the title

Homeowners Guide for Calgarians: Choosing the Perfect Tiles for Every Room

Tiling is the timeless decorative solution that provides both hard wearing practicality and beautiful finish for any room or surface. However, while the idea of having a tile finish is appealing, actually choosing tiles can be extremely confusing.

There are so many tiles available today, it can be daunting enough just finding a colour or pattern you like, but then add in material types, sizes and even shape, and its sometimes difficult to know where to begin.

If we look at tiling in Alberta, the average buyers are:

  • Over 40
  • Homeowners
  • Spend between $5,000 and $7,000
  • Look for a complete supply and installation service

The most common project for tiling in Alberta is the master bathroom. But whether you fit the average tile buyer profile or not, and whatever the project, how do you choose the right tile when there are just so many on offer?

Which material is best for you?

The first choice with any tile installation is the type of tile you want. Different materials have different properties, and of course, cost. The most common tiles for most situations are ceramic tiles, which are kiln baked with a glaze to give them a lovely, consistent finish. They are also the most cost-effective tiles, and with lots of choice of colour, pattern and size, can be used in almost every situation.

Ceramic tiles are hard wearing and easy to maintain but can be slippery when wet so best avoided for bathroom flooring.

Vladimir Ceci

Porcelain tiles are very similar to ceramics but use a finer clay that results in a harder, more water-resistant tile. They can also be manufactured without a glaze finish, making them incredibly hard wearing. Often used on flooring as a result, they are more expensive than ceramics too, but in general offer the same benefits with fewer drawbacks.

Natural stone tiles are the most expensive option, and it has to be said that for the most part it shows. Whether marble, granite, sandstone or limestone, they offer a natural beauty that manufactured tiles cannot match. They are easy to maintain and very hard wearing, working great as flooring and are Calgarian’s first choice of installation for kitchen splash backs. Depending on the stone chosen, they can be limited in terms of water resistance though, so choice for specific applications can be limited.

So, which material is best? That depends on what the project is really. What room you are tiling can mean you need fully waterproof tiles for instance, and that narrows your choice. In general, Calgary homeowners tend to focus on quality and choose tiles that

Your first tiling project is probably the bathroom

Your project will help define the properties of the tiles needed. The most common project today involves bathroom tiling. Here, the focus is on easy maintenance, hard wearing tiles with some form of non-slip option for flooring.

bathroom tiled with porcelain tile
Porcelain tiles setting on a bathroom + shower in Calgary by Vladi Enterprises Ltd

Other tiling projects include a kitchen, where flooring needs water resistance, and splash backs(or backsplashes) should offer some decorative appeal too. Entrances are another great option for tiling, with cleverly designed tiling here making an impactful first impression for visitors.

Unless you have a particularly large budget, in most cases you will be choosing between ceramic and porcelain tiles, as they provide an excellent blend of quality and price. They are also extremely flexible, able to offer an array of colours and patterns to give different looks to suit each room.

Porcelain tiles are also great for bathrooms as it is simple to include a kerdi system for drainage. They also work exceptionally well with heated floors, which are common in Alberta.

There is another aspect of the time we have not looked at yet, the size and shape of the tiles. But how does size impact your choice?

Tile sizing for residential spaces

Tile size and shape makes a real difference to the finished effect. The size of the tile changes the overall look. For instance, a larger 2 feet by 4 feet tile has fewer joints, so appears to deliver a more seamless finish, perfect for your main bathroom as less gaps means improved water resistance. A smaller tile, 1 foot by 2-foot standard tiles for instance, create the traditional checkerboard effect and are ideal for creating patterns with different colours. This approach is perfect for kitchen or entrance floors.

“A project we take a lot of pride in. The herringbone pattern combined with different colour patterns is breath taking – Vladimir Ceci”

Shape is also important. Rectangular tiles can be laid in different ways, including the very on-tend herringbone pattern, adding even more visual interest to the room. When combining this type of pattern with colours, you can create some very striking effects.

Project costs

None of us have an unlimited budget, so at some point, the cost of everything comes into the choices you make. In general, ceramic tiles offer the cheapest option, with natural stone, especially granite or marble, being at the expensive end.

fileplace tiled with marble
Marble tile installed on a fireplace. Marble tiling though expensive, it will leave your family and friends absolutely floored!

Porcelain tiles are more durable than ceramics, can be had in so many finishes there is something to suit every room, and yet remain affordable. With matt, non-slip options and more, they are the ideal option for most tiling projects, with a fantastic balance between quality and cost.

But there is one more thing to think about with cost for Calgarians, and that is tile installation or setting. Tiling is a great solution for your home because it is so flexible, it can be anything you want and then some. But the more intricate the design, the more labour intensive that installation will be, and with that comes a higher cost. Take that into account when choosing your tiles to get the most for your budget.

So, with all that in mind, what are the best tiles to choose? The answer is that it really depends.

The most popular tiles in Alberta

Sometimes it can be helpful to see what others are doing, and for Alberta homeowners, here are the most popular options today:

  • Material: Porcelain
  • Size: 1 foot by 2 foot in smaller rooms. 2 feet by 4 feet in main bathrooms
  • Manufacturer: This varies, but with a preference for quality, Italian brands are most popular

Of course, you should make your own choices, but as you can see, quality porcelain tiles from Italy are the most common tiles in Calgary.

Is there a best tile for your dwelling?

In terms of looks, finish and durability, granite or marble tiling is probably the best out there today. However, the ‘best tile’ for your project might be something different. A tile that provides the look you want at a price that fits your budget is the best tile you can have, and that doesn’t mean expensive natural stone every time.

Watch first hand how tiles can beautify your home’s most important parts.

Think about what it is you want to achieve, then choose a tile that fits your budget and has the properties to suit. In general, a porcelain tile offers the best compromise for quality and cost, while also providing endless options for colour and style, letting you create wonderful patterns and effects during installation.

For those with a large enough budget, a natural stone tile may be the ultimate finish, but even here, the choice and performance on offer from a porcelain tile may make it a better option. Similarly, a kitchen splash back with mosaic style patterning looks wonderful, and ceramic is the perfect option for this, making it cost effective too.

The best tile option then, is the one that brings your idea to life at a price you can afford. Think carefully about what you want, what the tile needs to do, and select a product that fits those needs. And we have the right tile stores to find the exact ones!

Vladimir Ceci

My name is Vladimir Ceci, and I am a tile setter with over 15 years of experience honing my craft. Coming from Europe, I learned the art of tile installation from European craftsmen before immigrating to Canada. Today, I am the proud founder and president of Vladi Enterprises Ltd., a premier tile contracting company based in Calgary, Alberta. Under my leadership, we have completed intricate tile work for countless residential and commercial projects across Alberta and BC.